Filming of "Svalbard - Arctic Seasons"
Hans Kristian Bukholm Interview
This article first appeared in
The 70mm Newsletter
Issue 37 - February 1995
Kristian Bukholm filming with 70mm camera
A new 70mm film from the Norwegian Arctic is
in production. It features the wildlife, spectacular nature and human
activities of the archipelago known as Svalbard, which lies to the north of
Scandinavia. Svalbard is also called the land of contrasts: the dark, frigid
winter, lit only by the northern lights, is followed by long summer days
with midnight sun and a burst of wildlife, including birds, reindeer, and
walrus. The journey through the arctic seasons also features the life of
trappers and scientists in the kingdom of the polar bear. Using light but
solid camera equipment and local guides, the small film crew reached remote
and unique locations: from the sheer cliffs of the teeming rookeries to the
underwater world of seals and icebergs. The rugged mountains, with massive
glaciers plunging into the fjords, were filmed from air.
in 70mm reading:
credits for "Svalbard - Arctic Seasons"
Interview with Mr
Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center
Fax: +47 55 200 050
press the image to see enlargement
Three shooting periods have been completed; a fourth and final period is
scheduled for February 1995. "Svalbard - Arctic Seasons"
will premiere in May 1995.
Question: Please tell me about yourself. Your previous film experience. Have
you filmed in 65mm before?
Answer: This is my first production shot entirely in 65mm. It is my 65mm
equipment as no other 65mm cameras are available in Scandinavia. My previous
experience is mostly in 16- and 35mm from the late seventies while shooting
numerous documentaries and television films. I consider myself to be a film-
cameraman, avoiding video as much as possible, because of the poor picture
quality. During the past 10 years or so I have been working mainly in 35mm
doing special effects using classical matte techniques and second unit work.
I became involved in anamorphic 35mm in the seventies when I bought my own
equipment. I built my own scope system from lenses based on Nikon and Zeiss
primes. I had a strong feeling that this 35mm scope format did not give a
proper resolution and general appearance. I became aware of 70mm when I saw
of Arabia" in 70mm in the Forum cinema in Bergen many years ago. I
have felt a strong wish to work with the 70mm format ever since.
1 of original 4-page flyer, press the image to see enlargement
Q: What kind of 65mm camera and stock do you use and what 70mm laboratory do
A: The 65mm cameras are of European origin and have been built around a
Mitchell type movement. As far as we know only a very limited number were
built in the sixties. We also believe these cameras are among the very few
left. They take 200ft magazines and the weight is around 10 kilos with film,
motor and lens. They are very well suited for remote locations and tough
shooting conditions. Before going into production last April, they had to be
internally modified and redesigned to a great extent to be able to run 24
fps 65mm/5 perf. One of the cameras is now being modified for "in
camera" special effects work (matte shots). We had some problems in the
beginning with the film braking near the end of rolls - especially when
temperatures got 20 degrees Celsius below 0. After modifying the magazine
film take-up system, this problem has been solved. We decided to use
Technicolor laboratories in London. We had very easy access to their facilities
and so far we are very satisfied with their services. We used the 5245
Eastman 65mm daylight film stock for most of the shooting.
frames, press the image to see enlargement
Q: Why have you chosen to film in 65mm?
A: We chose 65mm because the film is going to be shown on a big curved
screen, covering more than 100' angle from the audiences point of view. No
smaller format could give the same feeling of being present in an arctic
environment. Before the decision was made we made some competitive tests on
Svalbard, shooting on video, 35mm scope and 65mm. 35mm seemed crisp and
clear until the 70mm print from the 65mm negative was shown... I don't think
I need to say any more about the subject.
Q: How expensive is it to film in 65mm?
A: The cost is roughly 2½ - 3 times as high compared to 35mm. The 35mm
scope reduction print alone costs more than a 70mm print! However, 65mm
seems to have the function of sharpening the critical taste of the
cameraman, leading one to hesitate before pushing the button! We found that
even in a wildlife - shooting situation, the general quality on what we got
on film became higher than usual. I must mention, however, that budget
allowed us to shoot a total of 120 minutes for the whole film!
Q: Where can the film be seen?
A: "Svalbard - Arctic Seasons" will be shown from 1996 in a
specially designed big-screen cinema in the Nansen Remote Sensing Center in
Bergen, Norway. We also hope to find an opportunity to show the film abroad.